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Please continue to use these guidelines until new ones are released on brand.illinois.edu. If you have questions contact brandguide@illinois.edu.

The Difference Between a Logo and a Design Element

What a Logo Is and Does

With thanks to Paul Rand:

  • A logo serves as visual shorthand for an organization, product or service.
  • A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important that what it looks like.
  • A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.

A logo is an icon, symbol, or brand mark. It is only by association with an organization, a service, or a product that a logo takes on meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes.The role of the logo is to point, to designate—in as simple a manner as possible.

How Most Logos are Made

Logos are usually made by modifying a typeface to stylize the text so that it becomes a wordmark, which is a unique typeface used to symbolize the name of an organization, product, or service. The wordmark is usually associated with a graphic to form a visual unit. See the examples below.

What a Design Element Is and Does

A design element is a space, shape, form, mass, line, texture, pattern, light, or color that compose the basic vocabulary of visual designs.

Design elements are used with design principles, which include scale, proportion, perspective, balance, rhythm, emphasis, contrast, variety and unity, to create the broader structural aspects of the composition. Design elements and principles create, mood, style, and message and are also used to create visual identities.

Typeface Guidelines

Campus unit lockups with the new typefaces will be released in mid-October.